Offset in SAADC samples with Easy DMA and BLE

I have a nrf52 application that samples four saadc channels at 1kHZ. That is: Map four pins to ADC input and let Easy DMA take care of the sampling so that the data is processed ten times a second (100 * 4 samples). This works pretty well, except...

When I enable the BLE connection, the data is shifted in the buffer. Without BLE enabled, the data layout in the memory is as following {{1,2,3,4}, {1,2,3,4}, ...}. But, when BLE is activated, the memory layout is: {{4,1,2,3}, {4,1,2,3}, ...} I really don't know what causes the difference. I have no way to check if the data is shifted, or did the samples just swap places. I wonder if the softdevice blocks some of the samples that would cause the problem.

The saadc implementation is double buffered, like in "saadc_sample_from_two_pins - scan mode" here

The BLE implementation is based on ble_app_hrs_freertos in SDK 12.1.0. That is also the SDK version I'm using.

Any help would be appreciated.

  • Hi,

    There have actually been some progress with this issue. The reason why this swap/shift in the buffer occurs, is related to how samples are triggered, and how events are handled.

    The EasyDMA chapter in the SAADC documentation show the order of tasks and events for proper operation.

    The problem arise when the SAADC is configured in continuous mode using PPI to trigger the SAMPLE task at a regular interval, while the END event and START task is handled by CPU interrupt. When the SAMPLE task is triggered, each channel is sampled and written to RAM with DMA as fast as possible. When the buffer have been filled, the DMA transfer will be delayed until the START task have been triggered. You are triggering the START task in the interrupt handler after receiving the END event. If you receive the END event when IRQ is disabled or an interrupt with higher priority is executing, the triggering of the START task can get delayed until after the SAMPLE task have been triggered using PPI. Triggering of the SAMPLE task will generate a DMA transfer request, but this request will not be acknowledged until the START task have been triggered. The scan cycle of the SAADC will however expect the DMA transfer to finish, and will sample next channel. When the START task is triggered, the pending DMA transfer will be executed, but the transferred sample will correcpond to the latest sampled channel. Samples from previous channels will have been lost.

    There are two possible solutions to this problem:

    1. Use PPI to trigger START task on an END event. This will avoid the delayed triggering og the START task due to a queued interrupt generated by the END event, but in the case of high sample frequency and long delays, it can cause your buffer to be overwritten before you are able to process the buffer. In case of using this solution, it is neccessary to use double buffering and large enough buffers to avoid data loss.
    2. Trigger sampling from CPU interrupt. If the SAMPLE task is triggered from an interrupt with lower priority than the SAADC IRQ handler, the START task will always be triggered between an END event and a new SAMPLE task. This solution will make the sampling vary a bit in time, as higher priority tasks can cause the triggering of SAMPLE task to be delayed.

    This is a typical case of hard real-time requirements, that cannnot be guaranteed with a task/event based system. Since many users are experiencing this issue, we will try to update the documentation to make this requirement more visible.

    Best regards,


  • Hi, this answer helped me a lot, and it seems to be working well!

    I was wondering though: what will happen if the START task is triggered while, for some reason, no buffer is queued up?


    So, i checked the docs and nrf_drv_saadc.c, and it seems like things can still go wrong if you SAMPLE before setting RESULT?

    I also did a test where i sample for a long time, using the PPI solution, and did manage to still get a swap.

    I was wondering: will it help if i'd use the ADCs internal timer? **Edit** Ah, that can't be combined with scan mode.

  • If you trigger START task when no new buffer is "queued", the currently configured buffer will be overwritten. What do you mean by "SAMPLE before setting RESULT"? RESULTDONE is an event generated by the peripheral, it is not something you set (you can however clear it). You should not be able to get any "swaps" if using the PPI solution, as the buffer will always be ready to store samples. Please provide an example showing swapped buffers with PPI solution implemented.

  • Hi jorgen, if i look at figure 101 of PS v1.3, the next RESULT.PTR is set after the STARTED event. What I think happens for me sometimes, is that the RESULT.PTR is set only after the next START, and I guess that also leads to the same issue as reported in this forum post.

    What i'm now planning to use as solution is to stop the timer that triggers the SAMPLE task, if the RESULT.PTR is not set yet a few samples before the END. In that case, i will restart the ADC. (for this to work, i was wondering how much time it can take for the STARTED event to be sent after START has been called).

    If you have other suggestions, let me know :)

  • We do not have measurements on how long time it will take from START task until STARTED event. You can test this yourself by setting and clearing a GPIO using PPI and GPIOTE, and a logic analyzer to see the time the pin is set. 

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